Photo courtesy letchugo @ deviantArt
As I was sitting here staring at a very uninspired post schedule, unmoved by my planned topic, my mind became frustratingly blank. Thankfully this doesn't happen to me all that often - writer's block. But when it does I use a journalistic approach to brainstorming - the Five W's (and One H). Have you heard of this term before? Have you ever applied it to brainstorming?
The Five W's (and One H) stand for:
Reporters and law enforcers use the technique to gather information to discern factual information. I use them to cure writer's block. Here's how.
Take a piece of paper, or open a fresh word processing document on your computer, and make six colums - one for each of the above words. Then look around you, flip through a magazine, write down the topic of whatever you are listening to or watching, or pick a random color. Use anything. Since I am sitting here staring at my fingers on the keyboard, I'll use FINGERS as my starting point and write that above all my columns. Now I need to ask my fact finding questions and write down the answers in each column.
WHAT...(do we do to them)
WHY...(do we need them)
WHERE...(are the bargains)
WHEN...(do you care for them)
HOW...(do you care for them)
So as you can see from the above organization of my stream of consciousness, I've come up with some overall themes within each category. One topic that seems to have appeared in multiple spots is manicures. Something I'm familiar with and that many Bumbles visitors could relate to. Who pays for them and who goes the DIY route, which brands of nail polish look best or last longest, which special spa perks are worth the trip, how often people get them done, if they help curb nail biting, if guys ever notice the difference, how many men actually have ever had one, do gardeners ever bother, are musicians jealous they can't wear long nails, etc. etc. etc.
This little exercise took me about 15 minutes. I've now got all those topics within just the Manicure theme available to me. Not to mention ones that some of the above thoughts remind me of. Like how careful I was scrubbing my hands raw like my friend's little boy showed me how to do before we could go in and visit his new preemie twin brother and sister. Or how the calloused fingers on my left hand were a badge of honor when I played the violin. There's that terrific book I read about Mt. Everest climbers that turned me into an Adventure memoir/bio fanatic. Or how I still can't appreciate the difference between modern art and finger painting, but am fascinated by Jackson Pollock.
Give the journalistic technique of brainstorming a try the next time you are stumped for a post. You might be surprised the places your mind leads you.